"He instinctively can find the shining greatness of our American culture and does a good job of highlighting it (although he also does have those rare lapses when he writes about hockey, but that is something caused by impurities in the Eastern waters or something)." Erik Keilholtz
Under the patronage of St. Tammany
Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Friday, June 27, 2003 Well, they're probably taking that baseball bat to Ol' Strom's coffin lid right about now.
On the occasion of his 100th birthday this past fall, the longtime South Carolina senator was described colorfully by The Guardian'sMatthew Engel, and even more colorfully by Mark Steyn, who wrote in a column headlined, "Strom has done a lot of living":
A Senator's only as old as the woman he feels, and that's one thing Thurmond's always had a feel for. This week he became the only 100-year old Senator in the Republic's history. He's also the only American to have been elected to national office by a write-in-campaign. And the only Senator to have spoken for 24 hours and 18 minutes continuously, back in 1957 when he filibustered the civil rights bill and had an aide standing with a bucket in the adjoining cloakroom so he could relieve himself while keeping one foot on the Senate floor and still speaking...
And, of course, Strom is the only circuit court judge in South Carolina history to have made love to a condemned murderess as she was being transferred from the women's prison to death row. This was Sue Logue, the only woman in the state ever to be sent to the chair, but not before she'd been sent to the back seat of Strom's car for a lively final ride. It was a particularly bloody murder case that had begun when Mr. Logue's calf had been kicked to death by some other feller's mule. Things had escalated from there. Strom was said to have had a soft spot for Mrs. Logue, whom he'd hired as a teacher back when he was School Superintendent. She didn't meet the criteria for the post but she was said to have had unusual "vaginal muscular dexterity." I mention this not merely to be salacious and gossipy - perish the thought -- but only as an example of the extraordinary pageant that is Strom's life. If this were an appreciation of supposed Presidential candidate John Kerry, we'd have exhausted all the interesting stuff a couple of paragraphs up and you'd already have flipped to the sports section.
I only met the Senator during the impeachment trial in 1999. On the first day, in a chaotic melee by the elevators, I was suddenly pushed forward and thrown between Thurmond and California Senator Barbara Boxer. Ol' Strom had just cast an appreciative bipartisan eye over the petite brunette liberal extremist. Ms. Boxer gave an involuntary shudder. I'd been squashed between the two for about five seconds when I became aware that my elbow was being affectionately caressed by Strom. Presumably he'd mistaken my dainty arm for Barbara's, but who knows? What a great country! In how many other national legislatures can a guy just wander in off the street and find himself in a tripartisan squeeze being petted by a 97-year-old Senator?
Bill Clinton's legal team had been seated just in front of the old boy, and, during each break in the trial, Strom was at pains to demonstrate his, er, evenhandedness. He'd wobble up to the President's two lady lawyers, pat them down, tickle their elbows, stroke their hands, and refuse to let go until the gavel came down and the proceedings resumed. Watching from the gallery, I thought, "That's the way he used to treat me, the ol' three-timin' no-good dawg." Cheryl Mills, Mr. Clinton's fetching African-American attorney, smiled nervously, no doubt marvelling at how far the Senator had come since his 1948 segregationist campaign for the White House and, indeed, how far he was willing to go to demonstrate in a very real sense his personal commitment to integrating with the black community. Her colleague, the President's other cunningly planted jailbait nymphette, 41-year old Nicole Seligman, stared thoughtfully at Strom's flame-coloured hair plugs and made a mental note to warn her client that this is what he'll look like in half-a-century if he doesn't cut out the womanizing.
Meantime, revisit the 1948 Dixiecrat Convention at the Smoking Gun.